Scenic view of trees at camp

Recharged: Staff Retreat Recap 2023

by Valerie Morby


On an average day, they can be found in Atlanta, in Tyler, and in College Station. But for a handful of days at the end of August this year, all 150+ full-time Pine Cove staffers could be found in the exact same place: on the banks of Lake Palestine, all gathered together at the Bluffs family camp. 

Pine Cove’s staff and operations are spread across multiple regions and states, so the chance to unite for a few days on the same property is a rare, but welcome, occurrence. This annual staff retreat offers the opportunity for everyone serving full time at Pine Cove—wranglers, accountants, camp directors, registrars, and more—to reunite after a long and fulfilling summer to relax, recharge, and charge into the rest of the year.

The retreat kicked off in the Bluffs dining hall with the introduction of every new staff member who’d been hired since the last retreat—one full year ago. Needless to stay, that was a lot of staffers to introduce! But if you were wondering if Pine Cove’s full-time employees can sustain energy and enthusiasm for as long (and as loud) as its summer staffers can, the answer is a resounding YES. 

The rest of the afternoon unfurled in long, fruitful hours of fellowship and recreation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many decided to spend their free time playing outdoor games like Spikeball and pickleball (temperatures had dipped down into the 90s, but the waning summer afternoon still had the power to turn t-shirts 80% wetter than they’d previously been.) Others took advantage of the air conditioning in the dining hall by pulling out board games or assembling jigsaw puzzles in groups happy to escape the heat. Along the far wall of the Summit, a handful of camp directors pushed aside tables and chairs to make room for a new game called Rift Ball, which had received some “Bodd-ifications,” as Ridge director Conor “Flow” Barry put it—aka a few tweaks and “improvements” made to the rules by Chris “Broflex” Boddy.

After dinner everyone gathered in The Point where Erik (or “A-Love”) and Callie Nieder led everyone to the Cross in a sweet time of worship. From here the evening transitioned into an incredible and holy time of sharing countless stories of life change from the recently concluded summer—baptisms, healing, redemption, and more. These amazing stories had more than one staffer reaching for tissues, but it wasn’t all tears; there was also plenty of laughing, clapping, and marveling at the creativity and sovereignty of the Lord. He brought about a ton of life transformation in His people during the summer of 2023. His name is worthy to be praised! 

Breakfast the next morning concluded with a message from Caleb “Wheelin'” Carter, who spoke out of Hebrews 2 and impressed upon the staff that “the Gospel is even better than we think.” After some time each team got to spend together recapping the summer and planning for the future, everyone returned to the dining hall for lunch, which was capped off with the introduction of the Forge Class of 2024. With 35 total students, this is the largest class Pine Cove’s leadership program has ever seen! Each and every student was named and brought to the stage—from the fervor of the cheers and applause (and the intensity of the announcements themselves), you’d almost think it was the introduction of a boxing match rather than that of a few dozen new students!


From there, all of the camp teams headed out to begin training and orientation for the upcoming recruiting season, while the rest of the staff participated in an epic Farkle tournament! The consequences were high but the volume level was higher, and it all culminated with the entire staff surrounding the “losers’ table” to watch the final few rolls of the dice take place. Finally, the retreat concluded with an encouraging word about hospitality from Chris “Knightlight” Legg, a longtime friend and partner to Pine Cove’s ministry. 

The “chapter” of Summer 2023 may be closed, but it’s just a turn of the page for the full-time Pine Cove staff. With a commission from CEO Reed “S.I.” Livesay and President Craig “Dutch” Langemeier to recharge and set our sights on Summer 2024, the whole team is ready and well-equipped to step confidently into the Lord’s calling for our ministry: to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purposes and His glory. 


Posted Sep 7, 2023

Valerie Morby

Social Media and Copy Manager

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